Two historic sites on East Clay Street that belong to the Valentine Richmond History Center have not been given the attention they deserve, says the center's executive director Bill Martin. That is, until now.
An anonymous and well-timed $1.1 million gift by a friend of the museum will enable the Valentine to complete its expansion plans and restore the historic Davis House at 1001 E. Clay St.
It's the Valentine's largest bequest in recent memory, Martin says. The money is earmarked for the distressed Davis House, which was built in 1879 by Virginia architect Albert Lawrence West. What precisely will be made of the Davis House hasn't been determined; the center's master plan is still being studied. But Martin emphasizes that the anonymous gift has been essential to the expansion project. "The best thing is that it gets done," he says. "We have the funds in hand."
Later next month the Valentine will celebrate the opening of its long-awaited Edward V. Valentine Sculpture Studio, one of 22 examples nationwide of a National Trust for Historic Preservation initiative to preserve historic artists' homes and studios. The $1 million project will include the installation and exhibition of nearly 400 pieces of Edward Valentine's work and 800 instruments and tools he used throughout his 60-year career. It is the most comprehensive collection of works by the sculptor. Preserving and exhibiting the collection will teach visitors about how sculpture in the 19th century was made, says Martin, adding, "This building is a sort-of time capsule."
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